Rescue Efforts Continue in Quake-hit Japan
    2011-03-16 12:35:17     Xinhua      Web Editor: Yihang

Domestic and international rescue efforts are continuing in day six in northeast Japan which was ravaged by one of the most catastrophic earthquakes in human history and an ensuing tsunami last Friday.

The 9.0-magnitude quake struck at 2:46 p.m. (0546 GMT) last Friday, with the epicenter at 130 km east of the coast of Miyagi Prefecture at a depth of 24.4 km under the seabed. It then set off a deadly tsunami up to 10 meters high that sent walls of water sweeping across coastal cities in the north, putting many other Pacific countries and regions on high alert.

The Japanese government has so far sent around 100,000 troops to lead the aid effort, and has delivered 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water and 110,000 liters of gasoline plus food to the affected areas.

Japan Self Defense Forces, firemen, and police from all over the country have been mobilized to search survivors and dig out bodies.

Meanwhile, international rescue aid has been pouring into Japan since the havoc occurred. According to Japanese Foreign Ministry, 102 countries and regions and 14 international organizations have so far offered assistance, and rescue teams from 14 countries and regions have arrived or already left for Japan.

The damage caused by the quake defies description. According to Japan's NHK TV network, the death toll is estimated to exceed 10,000, with at least 3,570 people already confirmed dead and another 7,558 still missing.

The northeastern prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima are among the most severely hit. More than 76,000 buildings have been damaged, of which at least 6,300 were completely destroyed. More than 440,000 people have been evacuated, and hundreds of people are still waiting for help in isolated areas and have no access to food.

In Miyagi Prefecture alone, the number of dead or missing people has risen to about 5,900 after around 1,000 bodies were found Monday, and another 200 to 300 bodies have been recovered in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi, according to a Kyodo News report.

So far at least 100 aftershocks have jolted the coastal areas of Japan, including over 25 upper-5.0 magnitude tremors, with more expected to follow.

The quake has also damaged nuclear power reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, causing explosions at reactor buildings since last Friday's disasters, and blackouts in Japanese households for the first time since World War II.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday said radiation levels around the Fukushima plant had "risen considerably" and had reached the point where they endangered human health, according to his chief spokesman. In Tokyo, 270 km to the southwest, authorities have reported radiation levels nine times normal.

By Monday, food supplies had been shipped to four shelters in Minamisanryuku, reaching at least 3,000 people. However, electricity still has to take days to restore.

From Iwate to Fukushima, power supplies were limited to a small urban area, and telecommunications were impossible in Minamisanryuku, Kesennuma or other seriously-hit coastal areas. Cars queued for hours to get their gas refilled.

According to NHK, some 430,000 people are living in emergency shelters or with relatives and another 24,000 people are still stranded. As rescue workers are struggling to reach the victims, it was estimated that millions of people spent a fifth night Tuesday without water, food or heating in the low-temperature northeastern region.


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